Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kick-Ass Red Band Trailer

The latest trailer for Kick-Ass is online and this time it's red band as it should be! It features some blood, bullets and language so it's definitely NSFW. I won't give any more away... but I will use my overused bad pun and say it is truly kick ass! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hit Girl Gets Hit! Oh... and a Big Daddy Poster!

UGO just posted the latest poster for the Mark Millar comic-turned-film Kick-Ass. The new poster features Nick Cage as Big Daddy. I can't believe I'm this excited about a movie starring Nick Cage but he's just perfect for the part as you'll see when you scroll down past the poster and check out the short clip from Kick-Ass featuring Cage as Big Daddy and Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl. The scene is amazing and is taken directly from the comic! I don't want to give too much away for those who aren't already fans, but you'll be blown away! Enjoy!

Update: UGO took the clip down so just enjoy the poster and the previous clips.

Click the image for a slightly bigger version.

Click these links to see previous info on Kick-Ass:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Comic Reviews - Lois Turns Traitor!?

Action Comics #884
Nightwing/Chris has recently experience advanced aging and is near death. Now an old man, he is handed over to S.T.A.R. Labs for treatment. Too bad his only hope is Jax-Ur, one of Zod's sleepers! Meanwhile Lois has written an expose on how the U.S. government and her father framed Nightwing and Flamebird for the murder of Mon-El. She gets shocking news when she's called into Perry's office and is informed that, not only can he not run the story, Lois is being charged with treason! Lois makes a valiant escape attempt from the government agents that come to bring her in but a taser proves her undoing. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Jax-Ur is trying to get a DNA sample from Christopher by burning him with red-sun lasers. After watching this for several hours, Flamebird loses control and flames out knocking the glasses off of the good doctor and revealing the enemy for who he is. Flamebird begs Jax-Ur to save Chris and he agrees... in exchange for a blood sample from her! Lois isn't faring much better as she faces off against her father and he, in no uncertain terms, tells her to drop her investigations and that, if she weren't his daughter, she'd be buried already. He leaves by tossing down the gauntlet with the ominous comment that his planet comes before his daughter. And we all know how Lois normally reacts to being told to drop any story. She returns to the Planet and resigns so that she can take her story elsewhere. After the main book, the backup tale of Captain Atom continues with Mon-El bringing Captain Atom to the JLA headquarters where he thinks he'll be safe. We get a good look at the current lineup of the JLA but it's a look that Captain Atom really doesn't want as they accuse him of being a threat and in need of justice! Good read all around!
Score: out 3.5 of 5

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Muppets: Ringing of the Bells

While not as uber-awesome as the recently posted Bohemian Rhapsody, this Muppet tune definitely got me more in the Christmas spirit... and proved yet again that the Swedish Chef is awesome!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Game On! New Tron Legacy Poster and Image

I was in elementary school when the original TRON came out and I fell in love with the world of fighting programs dueling it out via light-trailing cycles on the massive and ominous game grid. Ever since I first heard that Disney was making a sequel to this legendary film after 25+ years, the 7 year old me has been giddy with excitement! I watched the teaser trailer over and over until my wife was ready to smack me. And now, via HeyUGuys, we have the first official poster and a still image for the new film due out sometime around Christmas 2010. I'm sorry... I must go squee in the corner.

P.S. I've included the trailer below these images in case you missed it the first go 'round.

Click on either image to see the high-res version.

...and the awesome trailer:

Comic Reviews - A Light Shines in the Blackest Night

Okay geeks of all stripes! I've been overwhelmed with school these past few weeks but this post will catch me up on all my pull list reviews. All of these issues except for Blackest Night: The Flash #1 came out two weeks ago and BN: Flash came out last week. But what a great group of issues these were! DC really is really amping up the Blackest Night storyline! So dig in...

Superman: Secret Origin #3
This series is such great fun! John's writing and Franks art evoke classic Superman in a way that I haven't seen in years. In this issue, Clark arrives in Metropolis for his new job at the Daily Planet. Most of the story revolves around Clark meeting the iconic DP staff and the bumbling ways he does it would make Chris Reeve proud. The iconic scenes are all here too. Clark opening his shirt to reveal the big "S" and flying off to catch Lois falling from a rooftop. It's all brilliantly written and I can't wait to read more!
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Superman #694
The tales of Mon-El standing in for Supes while he's away on New Krypton have been hit and miss. I love the character and the writing of Mon-El but the stories don't always click. This one is written to be a turning point in the series and, hopefully, will lead to bigger and better things for the series. Mon-El, coming to grips with his new life and where he fits in the scheme of things, pays a visit to Smallville. After some heart-to-heart chats with Conner and Ma Kent, he returns to Metropolis in full force (with a new Superman-inspired costume courtesy of Mrs. Kent). In Metropolis, the action ramps up with a showdown between Mon-El and Bizarro. The final page reveals that it's not just Bizarro that Mon should be worrying about with the appearance of the Parasite! Not a bad issue. It got my attention and I'm going along for the ride.
Score: 3.5 out of 5
Detective Comics #859
Of all these new heroes standing in for DC's big three, Batwoman is the one that's really not clicking for me. I absolutely love the artwork of J.H. Williams III but I'm not digging the storylines thus far. This second storyline is better than the first but it's uneven. I like the flashback sequences to Batwoman's origins but, when the story returns to modern times, it is just so weird that I just can't get into it. The Gotham that I love just doesn't mesh with these shapeshifting monsters and demonic cults.
Score: 2.5 out of 5

Justice League of America #39
Since almost all of the JLA's major players left some months ago, this title has been hit and miss. I've liked seeing some of the B and C list characters being utilized but none of the stories have really hit. This trend has started on an upswing with this issue as Blackest Night finally makes it to the JLA. The team heads into the Hall of Justice to check on the bodies of their fallen enemies only to find that they've of course risen as Black Lanterns. They come face to face with Zatara which makes for an amusing showdown between him and Zatana as they jockey for a magical upper hand. After that situation is cleared up, it's b-lister vs b-lister as fallen heroes Vibe and Steel return. Then the big finale as clearly depicted on the cover is the return of Dr. Light. I said this was the start of an upswing and I hope that is the case because this issue was pretty good.
Score: 4 out of 5

Green Lantern #48
More brilliant writing from Geoff Johns this issue as we see the various corps of lanterns starting to form an uneasy alliance. Even the Red Lanterns start to set aside their rage in an effort to destroy the Black Lantern menace. I absolutely loved the twist that, to get Agent Orange into their alliance, the team had to concede to his wish that, after the Black Lanterns are defeated, he will get his very own Guardian. The issue ends with the team pretty much solidified and the countdown to the end of Blackest Night beginning.
Score: 5 out of 5

Blackest Night #5
This issue picks up directly after the events of Green Lantern #48 with the newly formed rainbow rodeo (as Hal calls it) preparing to chase down the missing Black Lantern battery. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the heroes are holding off against the recently revealed mastermind behind Blackest night...Nekron! Nearly all the DCU heroes, including Superman and Wonder Woman, seem to arrive on the scene. As the battle rages, it is revealed that any time a Black Lantern tries to harm Dove (of Hawk & Dove) that she emits a white light that has the ability to completely them. The Lanterns then, as I'd predicted when this series began, combine the color spectrum to create white light and fire on the Black Lantern battery. Oddly, this attack seems to have no effect. Then the tide turns as Nekron revives the skull that Black Hand has been carrying since the series began and resurrects Batman as a Black Lantern! As if that's not bad enough, Black Lantern Batman spits out rings that, instead of claiming the dead as Black Lanterns, begins to claim those who have died and returned! Superman! Wonder Woman! Superboy! Kid Flash! Green Arrow! Then Nekron reclaims Batman's black ring and turns him back into a skull. (And don't think I didn't notice the quotation marks when Nekron called him "Bruce Wayne"... that's not the real Batman!) Then the new killing rings turn on the recently returned Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. Will they become Black Lanterns? I doubt it but I can't wait to find out!
Score: 5 out of 5

Blackest Night: The Flash #1
In what I'll vote for as cover of the week, this issue mimics the iconic image from the first issue of Flash: Rebirth with the Black Flash standing in for Barry. The storie begins somewhere during or slightly after the events of Flash: Rebirth with Barry still battling Thawne after it is revealed that a time-travelling Thawne is the cause of a lot of Barry's suffering throughout his entire life. Meanwhile, the Rogues are making plans of their own. The new Capt. Boomerang seeks out his father in the hopes of talking to him when and if he is resurrected. Capt. Cold appears to be doing the same in tracking down his sister, the Golden Glider. As the new Boomerang mopes around the graveyard, he witnesses the rising of Thawne as a Black Lantern (or Black Flash as he refers to himself). Yes. You heard that correct, now there are two Thawnes in this timeline. Barry, in an attempt to figure out what's happening and if the Black Lantern is the cause of all his misery by resurrecting Thawne, heads to Gorilla city to speak to Solovar only to find Solovar killed and the city taken over by Gorilla Grodd. Barry then faces off against a Black Lantern Solovar only to run away. As he's running, the Black Lantern rings reach 100% power and Barry calls all the speedsters to Coast City. What's his plan? I don't know but with the issues these past two weeks, Blackest Night has reached a head and I'm dying (bad pun fully intended) for the next issue!
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Kick-Ass Poster featuring Red Mist

Earlier this month, fans got a look at both the teaser trailer and the 1st poster for the Mark Millar comic-turned-movie Kick-Ass. Today, via AICN, we are treated to the 2nd poster, this time featuring Superbad's McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as the Red Mist.

The Red Mist is one of several nutjob superheroes who teams up with the title character Kick-Ass in his war on crime. And, just as Kick-Ass couldn't fly, Red Mist says he can't read your mind... but he can still kick your ass.

Click here to see the teaser trailer and here to see the 1st poster.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow Gets Down!

To go along with the newly released Iron Man 2 poster featuring War Machine, Paramount also released a photo of Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Now, like every other red-blooded male, I'm a Scarlett fan but I didn't think she had the look for the Russian superspy but this pic has gone quite a way to assuaging my fears. What are your thoughts? Comment and let me know.

Iron Man 2 Poster Revealed!

This post is for those couple of geeks who have been living under a rock and haven't already seen this newly released Iron Man 2 poster featuring our hero standing back to back with War Machine (this time around played by Don Cheadle). So will these two armor-wearing bad boys team up or will they face off on opposite sides the way that they did in the original storyline?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Muppets Sing "Bohemian Rhapsody"

This video made my day! I can't say much more than that. Just watch.

Via GeekDad

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Comic Reviews - A New Black Lantern and Wally's New Flash Costume Revealed!

For those that missed last week's comic reviews, I have begun putting spoilers in my reviews. You have been warned...

Flash: Rebirth #5
There's a reason Geoff Johns won Spike TV's "best comic book writer" award. I've said in the past that the man could write the entire DCU and I'd be happy and I stand by that after reading this next-to-final issue of Flash: Rebirth. At the end of the previous issue we learned that the Barry actually created and generated the speed force and that Reverse Flash was generating a negative speed force to counteract the real deal. Naturally a battle ensues. This issue picks up with the team of speedsters trying to take down Reverse Flash. The team is getting their rear handed to them most of the issue. Meanwhile, back at the West home, Wally's kids realize that their power fluctuations and aging have been caused by the fact they they are sharing a single connection to the speed force. Iris/Irey touches Jai's hand and absorbs his part of the connection and she gets full speed powers. I assume this means Jai is a normal kid now but that remains to be seen. Irey, now calling herself the new Impulse, rushes off to help the speedsters against Reverse Flash. Wally uses a trick to give the speedsters a boost. This also serves to give a lot of them new costumes including Wally's own updated costume which Flash fans have known was coming for a while. (See below for an image of Wally's new duds.) But even after all this, the speedsters can't bring down Reverse Flash. Reverse Flash reveals that he's been the cause of everything bad that's ever happened to Barry throughout history and that he can manipulate time. He then rushes away through time to kill Iris and thus give Barry no reason to ever have escaped death all these years. The next issue is the final chapter in this saga and I am dying to see where this ends up!
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Wally's new threads revealed!

Superman/Batman #66
Blackest Night finally hits Superman/Batman this issue with the return of Solomon Grundy as a Black Lantern. The story this issue centers around Fran Langstrom working with Frankenstein and the Bride to capture the Man-Bat and return him to his human form. While all this is going on, both Bizarro and a newly resurrected Solomon Grundy are wandering around Gotham. Bizarro comes across the team of heros as they are capturing Man-Bat. Thinking they are hurting his friend, Bizarro attacks the team and runs away with a mid-transformation Man-Bat in tow. But Bizarro's mistaken rescue is is cut short when he runs into Black Lantern Grundy only to have his own heart ripped out. Next issue... Black Lantern Bizarro? I sincerely hope so!
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top 5 Non-Video Games

The two of you that listen to the Of Garnet and Black podcast that I co-host have already heard what my top 5 non-video games are so this post is no surprise. I just wanted to take a moment to flesh out and explain why I picked these games out of the huge stack that I have played over the years. If you're ever in the mind to shut down your game system and try some traditional gaming fare, I offer my 100% geek guarantee that you absolutely can't go wrong with any of the games on this list. Hell! I play a few of these even more than I play my Xbox 360!

5. Munchkin (Steve Jackson Games)
Like Apples to Apples and a few other games that didn't quite make this list, Munchkin is one of those games that you pick up out of mere curiosity and are just floored with how fun it is! The basic premise of Munchkin is deceptively simple. It's a parody of the fantasy RPG genre played with cards (all drawn by Dork Tower's own John Kovalic). Each player has a character that they arm with weapons and gear and try to accumulate as many levels and as much loot as they can. The winner is the first person to get their character to level 10 (or level 20 if you're playing with the epic rules). The fun comes in with the fact that the gear ranges from things like a broad sword that can only be used by female characters to the infamous boots of butt-kicking. Fantasy humor not your thing? That's okay because Munchkin comes in various flavors! There's Star Munchkin (sci-fi), Munchkin-Fu (kung-fu), Munchkin Cthulhu (Lovecraftian), Super Munchkin (comic books), Munchkin Impossible (spies), The Good the Bad and the Munchkin (western), Munchkin Bites (goth/vampire) and Munchkin Booty (pirates). And once you get 'em all you get Munchkin Blender and mix the rules up for all out chaos!
Check out the official Munchkin site and get your copy now!

4. Hero Quest (Milton Bradley)
This game came out in the very early '90s during my high school years and, to this day, I can't think of any game that kept me up so late on the first night of play. Me and a couple of friends picked this one up on a whim at Toys 'R' Us and opened the game right after dinner. The next thing we knew, the sun was rising and we took a breakfast break before digging back into the game. The brief description is that it's Dungeons & Dragons: the board game. It's a simple set of rules in which each player controls a generic fantasy character of the barbarian, wizard, dwarf or elf and another takes on the role of the Dungeon Mast... er... the evil Lord Zargon. It's all played on a single board with interchangeable pieces including doors, treasure chests, furniture and the like. The basic set includes a book of 14 scenarios and rules to create your own. There were several expansions that included new quests and new monsters but I only ever stuck to the core set. This games no longer being made, but if you ever run across it at a swap meet or somewhere online, it's definitely a keeper!

3. Magic: The Gathering (Wizards of the Coast)
The reason games like chess, checkers, and other classics stick around is that they are based on a simple premise but can be developed into include complex strategy. That's why Magic: The Gathering is still near the top of the heap when it comes to CCGs (collectible card games). The basis is deceptively simple. You collect lands which in turn power spells. Spells are played to reduce your opponent's life points to zero before he does the same to you. I've taught others to play this game in less than half an hour but after 16 years of playing, I can still learn a new strategies and ideas. Since I picked up an early beta deck back in 1993, there have been 10 revised core sets and 50 expansion sets (with more already planned). It's that kind of expansion and flexibility that makes Magic: The Gathering the one CCG that's going to be around when all the imitators that have come since are long forgotten.
The official Magic Experience website

2. Netrunner (Wizards of the Coast)
Speaking of CCGs that have been forgotten, Netrunner is a game from the creators of Magic: The Gathering that came and went back in 1996. Like Magic, the principle of Netrunner is simple. One player takes the role of a "runner" (translated computer hacker) and the other "the corp" (i.e. corporation). The hacker uses his deck to try and hack the corporations systems to steal data before he is killed by the security measures (dubbed ICE) within the corp's network. What I loved about Netrunner is the nature of the game itself. The runner and the corp both used entirely different sets of cards which allows for some amazing and fun strategies to develop. But the best part was that the corp plays it's ICE cards face-down so there is an element of bluffing involved. The runner doesn't know if the ICE he's about to attack will set off a minor alarm or fry his brain. Netrunner, while forgotten now, won all sorts of awards and accolades when it was released and I'll give it another now by announcing it as my favorite CCG of all time.

1. Dungeons and Dragons (TSR/Wizards of the Coast)
The granddaddy of all modern RPGs (role playing games), Dungeons and Dragons, was released by a small company called TSR (best known for making tactical miniatures games) back in 1974. At that time, I was still in diapers and more interested in sticking dice in my mouth than rolling them. It took nearly 10 years before I picked up my first d20 (that's a 20-sided die for the uninitiated) and graph paper but I've not been without them since. In the 35 years since it's inception, D&D has undergone a lot of changes. It became Advanced Dungeons and Dragons for a while. There have been multiple editions. Hell, the game itself was bought from TSR by Wizards of the Coast (the creators of Magic: The Gathering). To this day, avid players debate over which edition is the "best" but at heart I think they'll all agree when I say that D&D's central idea of some friends gathering around a table, rolling dice and creating their own tales of heroism with what I refer to as "collaborative storytelling" has never wavered. It is for that reason that D&D holds the top spot in my gaming heart and likely always will.
Visit the official Dungeons and Dragons website.

Man! Writing this list has made me want to play some games? Anyone up for Magic: The Gathering on Xbox Live Arcade?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kick-Ass Might Not Fly... But He Can Kick your Ass

To go along with the teaser trailer released yesterday, Lionsgate now gives us the 1st official poster for Kick-Ass and, just like the trailer, it lives up to the title of the movie. The poster features Aaron Johnson as the title character and the tagline says it all...

Comic Reviews - Now with 100% More Spoilers!

I put out a poll last week regarding the inclusion of spoilers in my comic book reviews and the overwhelming response was in favor of spoilers. So, I'll warn you now. My reviews from this date forward will have spoilers. Of course, I'll try and warn you if it's something major, like this week's Green Lantern Corps. Also, rather than the bland "Pull List Reviews - whateverthedate is" titles, I'll just call these posts "Comic Reviews" and have some hopefully more interesting title. But that's it with the boring explanations. Bottom line: beware spoilers! Now... bring on the reviews!

Action Comics #883
The World Without/Against Superman storyline has me all over the place. Some issues are great and others just seem bland. This issue is one of the better category. I like the idea of Nightwing and Flamebird and that they're somehow reincarnated Kryptonian heroes. This issue plays with that a bit and has Chris and Thara discussing and trying to grapple with that idea. On other fronts, Jax-Ur (one of Genral Zod's remaining sleeper agents on Earth) is worming his way into S.T.A.R. Labs and setting up some kind of plot to kill our Kryptonian heroes. But the big finale (and I warned you there'd be spoilers so stop reading if you don't want 'em!) is that Chris' accelerated aging kicks in again and he becomes an old man. And who do you think S.T.A.R. Labs brings them to on a silver platter? You guessed it! Things just went from bad to worse.
Score: 4 out of 5

Batman #693
The idea of Dick and Damien as Batman and Robin is another issue that I'm torn on. First off, I think the current writers really "get" the characters of Dick and Damien and really... I mean REALLY... enjoy them as the new dynamic duo. What I'm not sold on is the idea of dumping all of Batman's traditional villains in favor of new villains or trying to bring B-listers to the front lines. The villains are part of what made Batman books great and these new ones just haven't really excited me much yet. This issue opens with Batman and Robin delving deeper and deeper into Black Mask's territory, smashing up False Face soldiers along the way. There's an interlude in which Dick, Huntress and Oracle gets to attend a Gotham socialite party and basically they're just there to keep tabs on Tommy Elliot (now disguised as Bruce Wayne) and the Falcones. But the party takes an odd turn when the little girl from the Falcone family shows up dressed like a rag-tag Catwoman and does something. Robbing the place maybe? It never really explains. The girl sets off a bomb and gets away. The explosion somehow triggers Edward Nigma's psychosis and it seems he's become the Riddler again. The issue closes with Batman off again to track down Black Mask. He starts by questioning young gang members in the area where Black Mask is operating and ends up getting one of them shot. It's not a badly written issue by any means but Black Mask and Hush as villains are just boring me at this point. At least we've got the Riddler coming back so that's a comfort and something to keep me reading.
Score: 3 out of 5

Batman and Robin #6
Here we've got another case of the DCU trying to come up with new Bat-villains and falling flat. That is made even worse by the fact that the rest of the book is amazing! Frank Quitely's cover is stunning. Morrison's characterization and dialog of Dick and Damien is spot on and makes me care about these guys. The artwork by Philip Tan is very fitting for the gritty action sequences that are showcased. But it all doesn't add up since the main villain is the Flamingo. Who's that you ask? Just some daft-looking idiot in pink on a motorcycle who does nothing but grunt and try to kill people. It's obvious that they're trying to make him appear deadly and frightening like the Joker and he is laughable... but not in the good Joker way. The only drawback I've had with Batman and Robin thus far is the new villains. I liked Jason Todd's returning to the Red Hood but Todd's arrested this episodes so now even he's gone. It seems like we're going to be focused on El Penitente and his gang of thugs and freak assassins and I'm not overjoyed at that prospect.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Green Lantern Corps #42
Okay, DC. The Bat-books may be lackluster and still finding their footing without Bruce, but the Blackest Night books are what's keeping the DCU at the top of my must-read list every week! This week's Green Lantern Corps picks up where the last issue left off with the Black Lanterns assault on Oa. The Green Lanterns, with the assistance of one of the Indigo Lanterns, are slowly losing their collective battle when the Black Lanterns' rings finally hit 100% and they all get the order to "consume will" and they all just stop mid-fight and attack the central power battery of Oa. The Green Lanterns come up with a few ideas to stop the attack including releasing Red Lantern Vice. Vice does a decent job slaughtering the Black Lanterns until Alpha Lantern Chaselon arrives and kills him. Then the Black Lanterns just kill Chaselon and return to trying to drain the main battery. The issue ends with a scene that I really didn't see coming. When Chaselon is killed, Kyle grabs the Alpha Lantern battery and flies into the center of the main Oa power battery with a slew of hungry Black Lanterns giving chase. Once inside the main battery, Kyle creates a dome shield and then detonates the Alpha Lantern battery, killing tons of Black Lanterns... but himself in the process. I assumed Kyle might die during the course of the Blackest Night series since Hal had returned as the main GL of sector 2814 but his death still shocked me. Well done, DC. Very well done!
Score: 5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Kick-Ass Trailer is... Well... Kickass!

I was going to wait until the first trade paperback to get into this comic but, after seeing this trailer, I may start looking for back issues today. This is brilliant!

Update: I just finished reading the first 7 issues of Kick-Ass and they are so much more awesome than this trailer lets on. I may have a new comic in my top 3!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mirror, Mirror

Below is a short piece of my fiction writing inspired by a recent writing challenge over at GeekGirlDiva's blog. I just liked it so I thought I'd share. Feel free to respond with your feedback and thoughts.


I looked into the mirror. My face stared back at me. Unblinking. My resolve began to falter. Could I really do this? I looked around at the candles; still flickering in the breeze from the open window even though there wasn't much left of them. The night had grown long and I was exhausted from my preparations. I glanced downward and praised whatever gods were with me tonight that the arcane symbols that I'd so meticulously drawn on the floor weren't smudged by my sweat and constant shifting.

"Hello, sparky!"

My head shot up with a bolt at the voice. The sound had come from directly in front of me. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, looking for any signs that the magics had worked, and only saw my ragged self staring back.

"I said hello. Are you mute or just rude?"

It had worked! It was my reflection that was speaking! I started to answer but was too fearful and shaken to do more than spit a few nonsense sounds.

"That's how it is, eh? I get pulled from my sleep at this hour of the night to hold a conversation with a dumb mute?"

I licked my lips and spoke...

"No... I... I am Simon Wilcox. I have summoned you here to help me."

My own face sneered back at me from the mirror.

"Help you? I guess that's the plan so long as your protection holds. But if it doesn't... Heh heh... You'd better hope I like whatever it is you're asking of me."

I returned the vile smile back at myself.

"I'm not saying you have to like it but I have the feeling that you will."

"Get on with it then! I haven't got all night! I have a plump little one waiting back on the spit that requires tending to."

I started to speak "I want...", but my voice cracked. I began again, "I want release. I want to trade places with you."

My reflection stared back and his hideous crack of a smile grew enormous on the reflection of my haggard face.

"Indeed? Release you say? In that case, I shall like it immensely. But you realize what you ask of me? You will be doomed to live in my realm for eternity and I'll be free to do as I please in yours."

I began, "Yes. I can’t..."

"I don't care what you can or cannot do. The question is whether this is truly what you ask of me?"

I shocked myself by not hesitating and I heard myself say "Yes."

As the word came from my mouth, the room began to spin and the walls seemed to bend. The breeze from the window rushed in and snuffed the candles and all was beyond my comprehension.

It could've been minutes or hours but when the room righted itself and I could see clearly again, I looked out from within the mirror and saw that the circle of protection was scratched beyond any recognition and a trail of charred footprints leading out of the room.

I could still hear the faint whisper of my own voice snickering back at me and I wondered if what I had done was right. But I didn't care. It was over. I was going to be at peace and to Hell with the world.

I laughed at my own bad joke and turned to explore my new home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pull List Reviews - October 29, 2009

Superman: Secret Origin #2
I enjoyed the first issue of this mini-series and this one really amps things up as we get to see young Superman's first encounter with the Legion. The artwork of Gary Frank is beautiful to behold. I especially love his facial expressions. There's one scene where Luthor turns his nose up at a young Clark that is pure genius! And Geoff John's writing... I've said it before and I'll say it again. This guy could write the entire DC Universe and I'd be a happy camper. Brilliant book all the way 'round this issue. Plus the Legion gives a few future hints at things that are currently going on in the DCU (and possibly a few that have yet to occur).
Score: 5 out of 5

Superman #693
I've really been into these World Without/Against Superman storylines. I like Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird. This is a good thing considering the last "without Superman" story I read was when we had the stand-in Supes after Big Blue's death at the hands of Doomsday. (Ick!) This issue, we discover what's happened to Mon-El at the hands of General Lane. The storyline's called 7734, which is the name of Lane's secret project, but type it into your calculator and flip it upside down... get it? Lane tries to brainwash Mon-El into his army only to discover that Mon-El is a tougher nut to crack than he expected. At the end of the issue, it seems as if Mon-El is ready to take the mantle of the big red S in earnest. I'm really enjoying Dick's taking of the cowl over in the Bat-books and, after this issue, I can really see Mon-El as a perfect stand-in for Superman. Maybe this new generation that DC seems to be trying to bring about will work after all.
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Green Lantern #47
Blackest Night really picks up steam with this issue. My only complaint in the past with this series is that it started getting repetitive with every issue being just a big battle only to end with another new Black Lantern rising on the final cliff-hanger page. This one has a cliff-hanger but it's a great one. In a few cool plot twists, we discover that there's at least one Lantern Corps that the Black Lanterns can't kill by ripping out their hearts. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan and Sinestro continue their strained partnership in a battle against the resurrected Abin and Arin Sur. The way this battle ends just cements Sinestro as my favorite DC villain. And then we get that cliff-hanger! Why can't Agent Orange get a break?
Score: 5 out of 5

Detective Comics #858
I'll be the first to tell you that I wasn't a huge fan of the first Batwoman story arc. The artwork from J.H. Williams III is some of the best in the DCU right now but I just wasn't interested in all the monster/supernatural elements or Alice's cult as villains. This issue takes little side-step from that storyline as we get a look into Kate's background. This is brilliantly written by Rucka and even more brilliantly illustrated by Williams III. Williams takes the tactic of using an almost Darwyn Cook retro look to the flashback scenes while keeping his lush hyper-realistic style for the modern sections of the story. The result is that is a piece of art, not just with the images but the story. Here's hoping that Rucka can keep this up when we get back to Batwoman vs Alice's cult as we're bound to do. Also this issue, the back-up story featuring The Question wraps up nicely. I like Montoya as The Question so I'll give yet another thumbs-up for DC's new universe.
Score: 4 out of 5

Blackest Night #4
Just as happened in this week's Green Lantern issue, Blackest Night really picks up steam and skips out on the battle/resurrection rut that it'd fallen into. Sure. There's still epic battles (featuring Flash, Atom, Mera, Alan Scott and others) but the way it's written and the vignettes that are slipped in between the fisticuffs are awesome. There is a great scene where a Black Lantern Azrael tries to scare the Scarecrow. I laughed at this scene as Azrael growls as the Scarecrow only to get a blank stare back. We get a brief look into Luthor's take on the Blackest Night which involves his power-suit. The final few pages do have a resurrection (of sorts) but it's one the avid followers of this series have seen coming for months and it means that the battle has finally been joined by its mastermind. Things are only going to heat up from here!
Score: 5 out of 5

Batman #692
This was an odd issue for me. I'm still loving Dick as Batman and these writers all seem to have a good grip on how he should behave. What I'm not too keen on is the tossing out of the majority of Batman's classic rogues gallery in favor of new and old-but-more-obscure villains. Black Mask seems to be the new mastermind of Gotham. This wouldn't normally be a bad thing. I like the Black Mask as a crime boss. But instead, what we get is a Black Mask dressed in S&M gear building an army of oddball cohorts including Dr. Death and Fright. Of course, Black Mask does recruit Hugo Strange so I guess that's one step in the right direction. Strange is one of the most underrated and underused Bat-villains. Another plus is that there's a new Falcone in town and that's a good thing. I'm hoping that Tony Daniel has something in mind with where this storyline is going because the new Batman has so much potential, I don't want to see it fall flat.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pull List Reviews - October 22, 2009

Superman/Batman #65
I wasn't sure what to make of this cover. I thought maybe DC had finally decided to write this series off since it's the odd out of continuity series that still stars Bruce and Clark. Instead what we get is a weird Hallowe'en tale of the Scarecrow gassing Bats, Supes, Joker and Luthor during a battle. For whatever reason, Scarecrow's gas knocks everyone out and he puts them all in shallow graves. This is all just a set-up for 4 mini stories in which the heroes and villains face their worse fears. It all comes to a predictable end when Batman's fear-induced nightmare goes too far. If I weren't in the Hallowe'en mood this week, this story would've just fallen flat as it's so predictable. But as I am in that mood, it wasn't a bad little nightmarish romp.
Score: 3 out of 5

Justice League of America #38
With the big three missing, the JLA is essentially falling apart (and in Plastic Man's case that's literal). This issue, Vixen, Dr. Light, Red Tornado and Plastic Man meet to discuss whether to just give up and disband the League altogether. It's a pretty depressing sad-sack meeting what with only these four JLA members answering Vixen's call... and then Despero shows up looking to eliminate this upstart League. After the JLA gets kicked around a bit, Zatana shows up late to Vixen's call and helps to save the day. But she brings bad news. She tells everyone that the League has to stay together to fight the Black Lanterns that are popping up all over the DCU. With that, the JLA heads back to the Hall of Justice where a newly risen old enemy awaits.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

DCU Halloween Special '09
If you're a Hallowe'en fan (and who isn't?), you'll get a kick out of a few of the 13 tales contained in this one-shot special issue. Sandwiched in a story of Bizarro's Hallowe'en are tales starring everyone from the Creeper to Superman and Batman. As with any compilation style book, there are hits and misses. Some of the stories just fall flat, like the Creeper one-pager, but overall, they're pretty decent. The gem of the book for me was the tale featuring yet another race between The Flash and Superman that is pure brilliance!. Another tale that may have lasting implications on the DCU involves the Outsiders fighting a vampire cult that resurrects Andrew Bennet of "I...Vampire". If you want some Hallowe'en goodness, this book would be a perfect way to get it.
Score: 4 out of 5

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pull List Reviews - October 16, 2009

Batman Annual #27
This is the first half of a story intended to herald Azrael's return to Gotham. Actually, I never liked Azrael and I still don't care for him after reading this issue. The story is that a mysterious group dressed as the seven deadly sins are kidnapping the children of various influential Gotham families in an attempt to bring back the eighth sin (whatever that means). Yeah. The story is an Azrael story through and through so I didn't care for it but the characterization of Dick and Damien as the new Batman and Robin is amazing! And to top it all off, the artwork of J. Calafiore is very fitting of the new Batman. While he makes Dick look like Batman, it's obvious that he's a slimmer and lighter version and definitely not Bruce. You know what? It actually reminds me of Neal Adams' Batman and that is a wonderful thing!

After the main story is over, there are two other back-up tales. The first is a fun little romp with Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen's "Li'l Gotham" version of the Bat-characters who I believe make their first appearance in this issue. It's a two page hot rod race between Batman and his rogues gallery. The humor and artwork just come together for me on this one. It's not quite the mini-JLA that appeared in Superman/Batman a few months back but it'll do in a pinch.

"Darker than Black" part 1 is the final story in which Barbara Gordon investigates a vampire. This story really doesn't cut the mustard for me. The artwork fits the story well enough but the story is just odd and seems out of place in a Batman book. But I guess it would be in line with Azrael so fans of the supernatural tales may like this more than I did.
Score: 3 out of 5

Batman and Robin #5
The "Revenge of the Red Hood" continues here as Red Hood (Jason Todd) and his sidekick Scarlett battle with the new dynamic duo of Dick and Damien. We get a look at what Jason looks like under his red hood and some insight into how he plans to overtake Gotham. His ideas on marketing and branding his campaign of violence is pure genius! However, his violent tactics against Gotham's underworld brings him unexpected results when a madman named Eduardo Flamingo arrives on the scene in some sick scenes that you can only get from a book written by Grant Morrison. The artwork is great on this issue as well. I thought when Frank Quitely moved to doing only covers we'd lose something but Philip Tan really stepped up to the plate and kept this book moving.
Score: 4 out of 5

Justice League of America 80-Page Giant
I'm always leery of one-shot titles and the cover price on this issue made that doubly true. But this tale of the JLA battling the Time Commander is actually quite inspired. There's a main wraparound story that serves to setup six mini-tales with the JLA scattered throught history. A couple of the best are with Hal Jordan and Red Arrow in the old west (Having them meet with Jonah Hex would've made this book near perfect for me... but alas! It didn't happen.) and Firestorm and Green Arrow meeting Ra's al Ghul in World War II. Brilliant! And the others are decent as well. All in all a surprisingly good one-off which justified the cover price... and setup a new villain for upcoming JLA storylines.
Score: 4 out of 5

Detective Comics Annual #11
This is the second half of "The Eighth Deadly Sin" starring Azrael which continues to serve to setup some villains for the new Azrael series that starts this week. The story is the supernatural tripe that's come to be a par for the course where Azrael is concerned. As with the first half in the Batman Annual, the characterization of Dick and Damien as Batman and Robin is very well written and this one gets an extra half point for the artwork from Tom Mandrake which is gritty and very befitting of Gotham City.

As with the Batman annual there are two back-up tales. There's another "Li'l Gotham" tale which is just as brilliant as the first one. Lastly, the Barbara Gordon "Darker than Black" vampire tale wraps up and doesn't get any better than the first part.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Green Lantern Corps #41
The Corps continue to battle the Black Lanterns that have attacked Oa. Soranik and Iolande fight to save the injured Lanterns. Guy Gardner kicks ass (as usual). Soranik comes to the rescue of Kyle Rayner. But the best of storytelling in the issue comes from Lantern Arisia coming to grips with her family's Lantern lineage and Kilowog facing off against his old drill sergeant Lantern Ermey. Yeah. You heard that name right. I squeed a little when I read it. The "Children of the Corps" title doesn't come into play until the last few pages but after the title "children" arrive on the scene, so does an agent of the hidden corps. A great issue all around.
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Blackest Night: Batman #3
The final issue of this mini-series sees the Gotham heroes trying to defend their city against an army of Black Lanterns which are far too much for them to handle. Before it's all over, Dick and Tim have to come to terms with their parents' deaths and, to put a hurtin' on the undead Lanterns, they enlist the aid of a certain rhyming demon. A great side-story to the main Blackest Night series.
Score: 4 out of 5

Batman #691
This is one of my favorite Batman issues since Dick took the cowl. Continuing where the last issue left off, Dick is at the mercy of Two-Face who has teleported into the Batcave to kill what he believes is an impostor Batman. But Dick holds his own and, in the end, proves to Two-Face that Batman isn't dead. Then Dick's story takes an interesting turn as he tears down the Batcave and prepares to move to his new bunker beneath Wayne Tower. Dick discovers a secret about his parents' murder that it seems Bruce had been hiding from him.
Score: 5 out of 5

Action Comics #882
The "World Against Superman" continues here with Squad K tracking Supergirl, Nightwing and Flamebird (now dubbed the "Metropolis Three"). After taking a quick breather and some downtime with Lois, the on-the-run heroes finally have a Squad K and Reactron. When they try to explain that they were framed, things go from bad to worse as Colonel Hazard discovers too late the real enemy behind this scenario.
Score: 4 out of 5

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pull List Reviews - September 30

My apologies for this pull list review being somewhat belated. It's been a hectic week since I'm on the Board of Directors with Eerie Horror Film Festival that's coming up this weekend and things have been insane! I don't expect it to let up either so, while I'll try to avoid it if at all possible, I expect the next week's reviews to be a little late too. I just ask that you, my intrepid reader, bear with me and, if you're a horror movie fan and want to read some fun tweets from the Fest, be sure to follow me on Twitter. I plan to be back in full force after the Fest's over, so until then... here's the reviews:

Superman #692
The "World Against Superman" storyline continues as The Guardian deals with a rising tide of super-villains in Metropolis. Meanwhile, Zatara is held captive by Mirabai (Gen. Lane's shapeshifter) for reasons yet unknown. After the super-villain battle is over, The Guardian and his crew take a break at the local cop bar where a secret about one of their own is revealed. While not the best, still a fun read.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Superman: Secret Origin #1
This review's a little late since I didn't pick this one up on its release date. But when my local comic shop forgot to pull the JLA 80-Page Giant for me, I snagged this one instead. And boy am I glad that I did! To start with, the artwork from Gary Frank is amazing! I listed Mr. Frank on my "top 5 artists currently working at DC" on an episode of DC Noise podcast a few weeks ago based on the preview pages for this comic alone and he proves me correct with the rest of this issue! His young Clark channels Chris Reeve in ways I've seen others only try. But, as amazing as his artwork is, it's merely a beautiful icing on the wonderful cake that is the writing of Geoff Johns. The super-sized issue is actually a series of vignettes detailing Clark dealing with his powers, meeting his real parents, his first encounter with Lex Luthor and learning that he wants to help people with his powers. To top off the goodness, the next issue tag on the last page teases us with the fact that the Legion will show up in issue 2. I'm glad I picked this one up and am dying to read the rest of this tale.
Score: 5 out of 5

Green Lantern #46
Blackest Night continues to rip across the DCU and, as usual, Hal Jordan is at the center of it. But this time, he's got an unlikely partner... Sinestro! Long time readers of my blog will realize that I love Sinestro. He was listed as my #1 DCU villain and here Geoff Johns shows me why! Yes. Johns again. This guy should just write the entire DCU. During Blackest Night and it's many spin-offs, Johns is rounding out Sinestro as a more sympathetic character. Well... as sympathetic as a fascist ego-maniac can be. But he's just so fun. In this issue, he battles Mongul to reclaims leadership of the Sinestro Corps and comes face to face with a long lost love from his past.
Score: 5 out of 5

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pull List Reviews - September 24

Superman/Batman #64
This issue is a one-off story that really goes nowhere. It begins with a couple of Kryptonian ships in a firefight. Before long, it's revealed that this is sometime waaaaay into Krypton's past and that one of the ships has been hijacked by an as-of-yet un-named alien race. Once the ship with the aliens has been damaged nearly to the point of destruction, it uses a timewarp engine to escape. Cut to modern times with Batman and Superman discovering the ship. It's desolate except for one jettisoned escape pod. The end. There's a big splash text on the last page that this is the "Prelude to The Big Noise: Three Months Away". No idea what that means so this may end up being a key issue but on it's own it's rather bland. However, the next issue is just listed as "Halloween"... and since I'm a Hallowe'en nut, that peaked my interest more than the message about Big Noise.
Score: 2.5 of 5

Justice League of America #37
The League continues to try and hold itself together internally as the battle with Amos Fortune's new Royal Flush Gangs continues across America. The JLA is forced to split up into groups of two to battle the RFGs on three fronts. It's revealed that Fortune's given the RFGs some kind of "bad luck" technology that changes the odds to make things happen in favor of the wearer. Things like Wonder Woman missing a shot with her lasso and Dr. Light accidentally blinding Plastic Man. But despite the league fighting against the odds as well as the RFG, they still come out on top only to have the masterminds escape. After the main tale, there's two brief epilogues. First, Roulette meets with The Key to discuss some mysterious "boss". Second, Amos Fortune meets the wife of one the Two of Clubs in an underground casino and the odds don't fall in his favor. While best of tales, I still enjoy seeing the backup crew in action.
Score: 3.5 of 5

Detective Comics #857
I made a comment over on the DC Noise forums that the artwork was the best things about Detective Comics these past months and this issue does nothing to change my mind. This issue features the end to the first Batwoman story arc and her showdown with new villain Alice. There's hint right at the end of a deeper relationship between Alice and Batwoman but, for whatever reason, I just don't care. I would like to see J.H. Williams III stick around for a little while but we need a change in the writing. I don't know that I'd go so far as to drop Greg Rucka since he also writes the backup tale featuring The Question and I'm enjoying watching Montoya digging into the child slave trade in search of a missing girl. It's very well written and fun. It feels like this first Batwoman arc was Rucka's attempt at writing like Morrison and he falls flat.
Score: 3 of 5